Browsing 'state mosque' News

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Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Mosque

A prominent Saudi Arabian family has ordered Qatar to change the name of its largest mosque, saying it was coined under false pretenses.

The mosque opened in late 2011, when the Father Emir still ruled Qatar. Shortly before this, he renamed the building from the Grand Mosque to the Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Mosque.

At the time, QNA said the move was “in reflection of the State of Qatar’s intention to revive the nation’s symbols and its cultural values.”

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Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Mosque

However, Saudi’s Al Sheikh family said this week that the name should be changed because Sheikh Hamad erroneously called himself a descendent of Imam Abdul Wahhab.

What’s in a name

The demand was made in a statement signed by Saudi’s Minister of Islamic Affairs, the state mufti and some 200 others.

But it is unclear why they believe this to be true.

When the mosque was named after the Imam, QNA hailed his “strict abidance by the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s sayings and actions,” but made no mention of blood relations.

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Plaque outside Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Mosque

A plaque outside mosque also makes no claim of a familial relationship between the Imam and the Al Thani family.

Instead, it describes the man as an influential Sunni scholar who was born in the Arabian Peninsula in the 18th century.

However, according to Reuters, Qatar’s ruling family does trace its history to Najd, the part of Saudi Arabia where Imam Abdul Wahab was from.

Arshad Inamdar/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The scholar is widely credited with introducing the conservative practice of Islam in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and throughout the Gulf, in what is now called Wahhabism.

Though many Qataris ascribe to this tradition, the Al Sheikh family also asserted that the state mosque does not follow the teachings of its namesake.

According to Arab News, they also allege “its imams and preachers are not committed to the moderate Salafist teachings.”

Media furor

The demand to change the mosque’s name comes amid a larger Gulf media war that erupted last week, after Qatar’s state news agency published false reports attributed to the Emir and Foreign Minister.

The remarks expressed support for Israel and Iran, and criticized key Qatar allies such as Saudi Arabia and the US.

QNA/Instagram

Emir in Saudi Arabia last year.

Authorities in Doha have denied the veracity of all the statements, saying QNA was hacked. But many in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain took the remarks at face value.

Officially, Gulf governments have been silent about the matter.

However, media is tightly controlled in these countries. And outlets in all three nations have been running articles, news packages and editorials criticizing Qatar.

Access to Qatar-based and funded Al Jazeera was also blocked inside some Gulf countries after the hack.

Call for reconciliation

Things have not been this tense within the GCC since 2014, when Saudi, the UAE and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Doha for political reasons.

But yesterday, a senior UAE official urged reconciliation, saying the Gulf is currently facing a “new sharp crisis that carries within it a great danger.”

In a series of tweets, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash pushed for unity. Without mentioning Qatar specifically, he added:

“Fending off sedition lies in changing behavior, building trust and regaining credibility.”

Thoughts?

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Qatar’s largest mosque has once again banned children from attending evening and taraweeh prayers this Ramadan after receiving a number of complaints from worshippers, Al Sharq reports.

During the first few days of the fasting month, kids could be seen milling about the Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Mosque’s men’s prayer area. A makeshift space had been allotted for females with small children to pray downstairs near the women’s prayer area.

But the noise has proved to be too much, Sheikh Malallah Bin Abdul Rahman Al Jaber, the Mosque Directorate in charge of the Imam Mohammad Bin Abdul Wahab Mosque, told the newspaper.

Gulf News translates:

“We are sorry to make this decision…We are forced to impose the ban both at the men’s prayer hall and at the women’s prayer hall, to ensure that worshippers are not annoyed by the brouhaha of underage children. We urge all parents to comply with the new rule.”

Last Ramadan, a similar ban caused controversy among some worshippers, some of whom could be seen arguing with security staff who would not permit entrance to children. 

At the time, some Qatar residents hailed the decision, saying it allowed for more peaceful prayers, while others said children should be exposed to visiting mosques from a young age.

A few suggested that the mosque create a play area of nursery for parents to temporarily leave their kids while performing their prayers.

Al Jaber added that all worshippers should respect the mosque by turning off their mobiles, placing their shoes in the shoe racks, not bringing food or beverages into the facility and not disturbing other worshippers. Security staff will be dispatched to deal with any violators, he said.

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Omar Chatriwala

Thousands of people turned out at the Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Grand Mosque and mosques elsewhere in the country last night to observe a midnight prayer.

Tuesday night marked the 27th night of the Muslim month of fasting, which is commonly believed to be Laylat al-Qadr (the night of power). And despite previous restrictions, children were in abundance at the State Mosque.

Did you go out to pray? As Ramadan draws to close, what will you miss most?

Credit: Photos by Omar Chatriwala